Wednesday, June 15, 2016

For Orlando - Can We Please Mourn?

When thrust into a devastating crisis the reaction that is least informed is the most ill-advised. The least informed reactions are those that are premature, often immediate. After all, immediate reactions always lack adequate information. A sad example of this was in the wake of the most recent attack by an Islamic jihadist in Orlando, the aired reactions were too swift and less than comforting. Political leaders, celebrities and media pundits trotted out within minutes before cameras and microphones with their trite sound bites anchored in entirely unworthy agendas. People from every shade of the political spectrum took to the grand stand to help everyone else understand through which lens we all should see this ugly tragedy. But, there is only one lens – God’s. Therefore, all that we heard from these self-seeking tools was Godless arrogance, pride and ultimate ignorance of those who simply want to grieve. Sadly, grieving and mourning is becoming an art tragically lost in the dense school of political remoras (sucking fish) who are bent on division. People hawking agendas that suit themselves do so at the expense of those needing the most attention – the victims and their families. Those traumatized by this attack need sympathy and empathy at this time. The last thing they need is to be taken advantage of for the agendas of those seeking self.

In fact, the Bible instructs us in the importance of mourning and grieving. Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells is that there is “a time to mourn.” Yes, there is a time to mourn and we are still in that period of time. Mourning should not be interrupted for personal gain. Various scriptures even reveal God’s preferences for the duration of mourning - periods ranging between 7 days (Genesis 50:10) and even up to 30 days (Deuteronomy 43:8). In fact, such a period of mourning provides adequate pause to inform our next reactions. Further, Romans 12:15 commands the rest of us, “weep with those who weep” in the verse adjacent to "bless those who persecute you." These verses command us to go beyond sympathy to empathy. Sympathy is merely agreeing with someone’s emotion. But, empathy participates with their emotion. Empathy weeps along with those who are weeping. That is not just what Jesus would do, it is what Jesus did. Well, if you are trotting out agendas, you are actually doing the exact opposite of empathy. Such agenda hogs siphon from the emotion of others in order to transfer that emotion towards their agenda rather than the agenda at hand – mourning. Finally, Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” That gives us even more reason to insist that we be allowed to properly mourn for those we lost and the families and communities that are bearing the losses.

We all have our political and personal views about this tragedy. And, our views can wait – they are secondary to the emotions of the true victims. After all, the emotional views of the grieving should always override the views of those with urgent ambition for personal gain. Our challenge to everyone, Christian or not, is to stop speaking out unless your voice joins in the chorus of prayer, weeping or both. Imagine if your loved one were one of the dead. If your child were killed, how would you feel? How would you want others to respond? How would you feel if you turned on the television only to see others stealing the emotion from your loss? Put yourself in the shoes of the victims and their families and empathize.

Now to my Christian brothers and sisters, we must weep for those who weep. Empathy is not an option. Why? Because 49 bearers of the image of God were brutally killed by God’s enemy. And, the families of the dead also bear the image of God as they grieve. Our hearts need to be broken by what breaks God’s heart. Our challenge is to pray. Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for the city of Orlando. Pray that God would heal, comfort and advance His love. Pray for wisdom for the churches in Orlando as they comfort these mourning families. Pray that the victims, their families, Orlando and the entire world will see in the people of God who reside there, the love of Christ clearly displayed by our empathy and comfort. Pray that the world would see the clear difference between the hands, feet and heart of Jesus Christ and the hands, feet and heart of false gods. Pray that the contrasts between the one and only God and His counterfeits be crystal clear. Pray that people see the difference between the God who loves and those who hate. In John 13:35 Jesus implored us, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” They will know us by our love.

The time will come to better understand and thoroughly process what happened in this tragedy. But, today is not yet that time. All other agendas should be ignored for now. Any selfish person can easily politicize this tragedy. But, to do so is a grand larceny from those that are grieving. Emotion should transferred to them not siphoned away. We need to pour all of our energy that we would have otherwise wasted on stealing emotion from the grieving, and rather pour that energy into love for those we lost and those who lost them. Can we please mourn?

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